What is the history of David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery?

In 1979, Dave and Pat decided to give up the city life and move to the beautiful Dry Creek Valley. They purchased a 20 acre vineyard with a small house on it and began the life of farmers. For about 15 years, Dave tended the vineyard by himself and they made a living by selling their grapes to Ernest and Julio Gallo. As time went on they began to sell to smaller wineries in the Dry Creek area, and all the while Dave experimented with his fruit by making a small amount of wine for his own personal consumption.

In 1994, it was time for a change and so the Coffaros applied for a commercial winemaking permit. Dave gradually extricated himself from the day-to-day tasks of running a vineyard by hiring a vineyard manager to take over most of the duties required in the vineyard. The first year's commercial production was only 400 cases, followed the next year with 700 cases and the the next with 1300 made mostly by himself. When he increased production to 2500 cases in 1997, he hired Brendan Eliason - a CalPoly viticulture student - to help him with the winemaking. Two vintages later in 1999 after graduating, Brendan came to work full time for his third year and continued on as assistant winemaker until the harvest of 2005, followed by California Culinary Academy graduate Matt Wilson from 2005-2015, Texas Tech horticulture major Josh Price from 2015-2018, and currently, long-time employee Jose Flores since 2018.

What grapes do you grow and how many acres do you have?

We grow over 30 varieties here on our small estate property, including:

Aglianico, Alvarelhao, Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Grenache, Lagrein, Malbec, Merlot, Montepulciano, Mourvedre, Muscat, Nebbiolo, Peloursin, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Pinotage, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sagrantino, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, Souzao, Syrah, Tannat, Valdiguie, Viognier, Zinfandel

For detailed insight, take a look at our vineyard layout (.pdf format).

Is David Coffaro Winery a family operation?

Well, even though everyone who works here have been with us long-term and seem like family, technically the answer is "no." Not counting Dave and Pat, who handle all the day-to-day tasks of running the winery, we have six almost full-time employees: Catarino, Salvador, Catalina, Martha, Jose, and Jesse. Martha and Catarino are Jose's parents, so in that sense, too, we are definitely a family-run winery!    

Who makes the wine for David Coffaro Vineyard & Winery?

Dave himself makes all the winemaking decisions and works closely with with the hands-on winemaker, currently Jose Flores since harvest of 2018.

How did Dave get into making wine and where did he learn how to do it?

Dave was buying French Bordeaux in the 70's, so when he bought the vineyard in 1979, it made sense to start making wine. His learning experience is mostly trial and error, but he has never been afraid to ask questions of his winemaking buddies who are Davis grads. Julia Iantosca, formerly at Lambert Bridge Winery, was his biggest source of information and assistance. There are also two wine labs who are a great source of knowledge. Dave did take two wine courses, which included one on the spoilage of wine.


Why do you sell your wine as futures?

We believe in selling our wines at a fair price. We are essentially cutting out the middle man by selling our wine directly to our customers at the same price as we would receive if we were to sell to a distributor. This works well for both the winery and the customer. We end up getting money to make the wine and you end up receiving spectacular wine at a substantial discount.

How do wine futures work?

We sell approximately 60% of our production every year through our futures program. Essentially you are tasting the wine from the barrel, then purchasing it at a roughly 40% discount from their eventual release price. You are then able to take possession of the wine as early as August following the year in which the wine was produced, or for our longer 16-month barrel-aged wines, as early as February of the year after that.

When can I buy futures, and when are they released?

We begin selling futures of the current year's vintage in April of that year and continue selling futures on that vintage until bottling in July of the following year. Any wine that remains unsold after bottling is then available for sale at retail prices.

When will I receive my 10-month and 16-month aged futures?

We release our 10-month wines in August of each year and our 16-month wines in February of the following year. We let our customers decide for themselves when they would like to receive the wine. If shipping is requested, we ask for a preferred shipping date at the time of release. We find that most customers generally prefer to choose a shipping date in the fall for the 10-month wines and in the spring for the 16-month wines, when weather conditions are more favorable.


How long do David Coffaro wines age and when should I drink them?

This question is a popular and difficult one. Once again personal preference should be considered and not the opinion of someone else. If you prefer fruit-forward, upfront, and vibrant wines, then you probably would enjoy our wines anywhere from 3 months after bottling to 3 years. If you like them with a little bit more subtlety and character, then aim for 3-6 years. If you like your wines rich, complex, and softer, then you will want to look for the 7+ years.

How many cases of wine do you make?

We have steadily increased our production from 400 cases in 1994 to approximately 7,000 in 2006. Since 2006, case production has fluctuated between 4,000 and 7,000 cases, consisting entirely of estate grown fruit whenever possible.

Do you have tasting notes and suggestions for food and wine pairings?

Dave puts what he thinks, as he drinks, into his Winemaker's Diary.  We also offer more formal tasting notes in our semi-annual wine club newsletters, and you will also find a short description of each wine right on the ordering page. Check out our "Recipes" page for some food and wine pairing ideas.

What closures do you use?

Beginning with the 2004 vintage, we discontinued the use of corks and made the decision to go solely with what is commonly known as the "screwcap" closure.

Why screwcaps?

Here are the most common questions:

Isn't the cork needed for the wine to develop and age properly?
Don't great wines need corks to age?
Isn't wine a living thing, and it needs to breathe through the cork?

Wine does not breathe through a cork, but cork closures, including synthetics, all exhibit some degree of gas permeability in both directions. That creates oxidation and premature aging. Champagne ages and it surely does not breathe. After bottling, wine is aging in a confined space and thus the aging is a reductive process.

We think the advantages of using screwcaps to seal wine bottles can be summarized as follows:

There is no taint.

There is a superior retention of wine quality characteristics, both analytical and sensory.

The ability to allow longer bottle maturation, because the seal is perfect and still allows for reductive development in the absence of oxygen.

Screwcaps are very convenient in regard to both removal and re-sealing.

How do you decide on a wine blend?

We go by what tastes good. Dave likes to make deliciously balanced wines, so when we have all the parts separate he will take an acidic wine and blend it with a more tannic wine to make it more balanced, and so on. And sometimes, he doesn't blend at all but makes a 100% varietal instead.

What sort of barrels do you use?

We use a combination of American, Eastern European and French barrels.

Is the wine filtered?

We don't filter any of our wines because we believe that filtering and fining only strips the wine of some of its essential body and characteristics. Also if we did filter, then we wouldn't have ZP2C! Where's the fun in that.

Where did the name ZP2C come from and what does it stand for?

When Dave first made wines as a home winemaker, he would put a tiny sticker on the bottle with a "Z" if it was Zinfandel, a "P" if it was Petite Sirah, and a "C" if it was Cabernet. So then if he blended the three, he would put "ZPC" on the sticker. So after the first year or two of commercial wine making, he decided to use "ZP2C" on the bottom of the barrel blend because at that time, he only produced wine from four grape varieties - Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet and the second "C", Carignan. And, over the years, as he has worked with more and more grape varieties, we decided that adding a new letter for each one would be too confusing. So, the name has remained "ZP2C" and the wine consists of some of every grape variety used in any given year

How is "ZP2C" made?

Our red wines are fermented for about one week until almost dry (no sugar left). The skins and seeds are then pressed and left behind. The juice is pumped into barrels directly without settling and in a few months' time about 4 gallons of sediment forms at the bottom of the barrel. In January we rack off the clear wine and empty the 4 gallons of sediment from each barrel into separate barrels, which we call "mud". We repeat this racking process twice more, once in April and once in July when we bottle. So each time we do this, the wine to be bottled becomes clearer, and less sediment forms at the bottom of the barrels. We rack the clear wine off the mud barrels every three months and that wine ultimately becomes "ZP2C".